P&G’s Accessibility Leader On Being Blind & Working for Change

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sam latif proctor and gamble

By the time Sam Latif transitioned from Procter and Gamble’s IT division to become the company’s first Accessibility Leader, she had already been working to advance disability inclusion for 15 years at P&G. And in fact, as a blind woman, she’s been working on that cause for her entire life.

Latif faced struggles in the workplace since taking her first job at age 16, in a call center in her native Scotland that sold windows. She didn’t know it was incumbent on her employer to accommodate her, and she couldn’t read the written phone numbers she was charged with calling. So instead she paid someone the same amount she was making—5 pounds per hour—to record the numbers onto cassette.

“I was determined to work, because when you get paid you get independence,” says Latif, who spoke with Glassdoor ahead of the United Nations’ International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3. “And at the time, I thought any kind of assistance was charity. I didn’t want that.”

So Latif faced struggles in the job interview process after she completed her schooling; even getting to the interviews was a challenge. Potential employers would often fly her from Glasgow to London, which meant she had to navigate getting on the right flight and beg taxi drivers to leave their cars and help her get into the buildings for her interviews.

She excelled in those interviews, which often ended with laughing with and even hugging. But many companies came back and said: We like you a lot, but we don’t think you’d fit here. A recruitment firm told Latif it didn’t want to put her name forward because she would have to use Microsoft Office and other apps.

“I would say, ‘But wait, you’re not even giving me a chance!’” Latif says.

In the end, it was a chance meeting with Arnold Clark, the billionaire owner of a car dealership company that became the largest private firm in Scotland, that led to Latif’s first job. She created for herself a marketing analyst role, where she stayed for about a year and a half.

Then it was P&G that opened up her career. She sat for three interviews in early 2000—which included hiring an agency that could describe the charts and graphs on a hiring test to her—and joined as an IT project manager in the company’s fine fragrances division.

Source: Glassdoor Blog

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